Family Guy's Cleveland enlists music stars

The Cleveland Show
Cleveland [second from left] and his family

Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas's will.i.am and U2's Larry Mullen Jnr are just some of the stars lending their voices to new Family Guy cartoon spin-off The Cleveland Show.

The series, showing on E4 in the UK, and created by Family Guy boss Seth MacFarlane follows the adventures of Cleveland Brown and his family.

Mike Henry, who voices the main character said: "Kanye could not be a cooler guy at our show - we do definitely have some jokes where he makes light of himself."

"He does some things out in public that stir up controversy and opinions. He knew that and we contacted him and he was totally up for doing the part."

'Cool' guy

The show, which began in the US last autumn and is already commissioned for a second season, has managed to enlist a number of big name musicians including the outspoken rapper.

Kanye West
Kanye West appears in the first and second series of The Cleveland Show

"He's a recurring character," says Henry of Kanye West, who voices a character called Kenny West in the show. "He does an extended rap-off with Cleveland Jnr in an episode first season and he and Cleveland hook up and do another rap in season two.

"The first time we had actually written a rap for him. Five of our writers sat down to write this rap and they were like, 'I wonder how he's going to like it?'.

"But he was genuinely laughing. He very humbly asked if we could change one line which didn't feel right. He was even joking that we should write a song for his next album."

More stars

Of course, this isn't a new idea. Over the past two decades we've seen cameos from the likes of Green Day, Aerosmith and, most recently, Coldplay in shows like The Simpsons.

Other music stars lined up to take part in season two of The Cleveland Show are Black Eyed Pea's will.i.am and rapper T Pain - who'll play sidekicks for Cleveland Jnr.

"We just recorded him last week and he was absolutely hilarious. He could do his own animated show he's got so many voices," says Henry of Will.i.am.

U2's drummer Larry Mullen Jnr also got in touch with the programme's creators through a mutual friend and asked to be involved.

Will.i.am
Black Eyed Pea's will.i.am voices a character in season two

"He came in and we hung out for a couple of hours. We just recorded him doing a couple of different parts and he was very funny.

"It's a thrill for me to do all this. U2 is my favourite band of all time and David Lynch the film director plays a part on our show.

"He [Mullen Jnr] plays a mobster in one episode; he plays a bad Elvis impersonator by design in another episode.

"He's got his own studio so we just record it from Dublin. You don't have to record at a certain time. It's an easy gig and one that people like to do.

"It's very cool to have all these people from different walks of entertainment participating in what we're doing."

The Cleveland Show airs at 10pm on E4 every Monday.